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Ilse Lichtenstadter, former senior lecturer on Arabic in Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, died of natural causes May 23 at Beth Israel Hospital. She was 89 years old.
Lichtenstadter, whose research focused on Middle Eastern and Asian societies, received Ph.D.'s from the University of Frankfurt am Main in 1931 and from Oxford University in 1937. She moved to the United States in 1938, taking a post as Cataloguer of Judaica in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Lichtenstadter taught Arabic and Islamic culture at several institutions, including the Asia Institute, New York University and Rutgers University. In 1960 she came to Harvard, where she remained until her retirement in 1974. Lichtenstadter lectured in Arabic first in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department, and later in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
Much of Lichtenstadter's work focused on Oriental literature from 200 to 1600 A.D. But the lecturer called her sociological study of modern Islamic society in a 1951 Egyptian village "one of my happiest times anywhere," according to Professor of Arabic Wolfhart P. Heinrichs, who recently edited a literary volume to which Lichtenstadter contributed.
Lichtenstadter traveled widely in the Near and Middle East and, in addition to her stay in Egypt, spent considerable time in Pakistan.
NELC Department Administrator Carol Cross remembered Lichtenstadter as a "very warm, fine woman who was always generous with her time, even after she retired."
Lichtenstadter had remained very active after her retirement, and conducted research until shortly before her death, Cross said. "She was looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday in September."
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